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     Friends, I'm tired. TIRED.
     This week, Life happened. She walked in, kicked my family and me around, and then stood there, watching to see how we would respond. And for a few minutes, it kinda felt like the end of the world. But sometimes the end of the world is really just the beginning of a new one. Oh, it doesn't feel like it though, not in the slightest. I can look back through my 32 years and see lots of Ends that felt so painful that I was pretty sure I couldn't go on. A failed exam, a break-up, getting fired, a terrible fight with my husband, fertility struggles, watching my family suffer, losing a child... it all feels like the end of the world. And it is. If you really think about it, each life catastrophe changes us; it changes our worlds, the way we respond to new situations and people, the way we approach future challenges, whether we choose to fear or embrace. It literally ends the way we used to be, the way we used to live. Life changes our vision and the way we see things. We may start out with 20/20 vision but end up needing a prescription for our sight after going through a bout with cancer or the death of a parent; our end of the world experiences making it hard to get out of bed the next day or cause us to question why we're even here at all.
     What's your prescription for when Life deals you a hand so unfair that you can't see straight? Binge-eating? Alcohol? Chain-smoking? Lashing out at your family? Breaking things? Self-loathing? Or maybe you're like me. Maybe you tend to get depressed by replaying the troublesome situation over and over and over in your head, sure that you missed the one detail that will re-set your vision; sure that you'll find a way to solve this problem, this End. If you've tried any of these, you're already painfully aware that they are awesomely ineffective tools. Because ultimately what we want is to change our situation, not put on glasses to help us see clearer. We want to go back to the time when Life was amazing and wonderful and our vision was perfect. We want death to be undone, words to be taken back, second chances given. Anything but The End. 
     This week, my kid got sick. Kidney-problem sick. My kid got sick the same week that I was struggling with my husband in our marriage. My kid got sick and I struggled with my marriage the same week that my baby had a four-day fever. The same week my back went out and I slept on a cot in my son's hospital room caring for him and my fevered baby while being hunched over at a 45 degree angle in pain. The same week my daughter's old behaviors started back up because she didn't get to be the one sick and have me give her my hunched over, undivided attention. The same week my mom tells me that my grandma has skin cancer and that my brother's custody battle for his precious little boy has taken yet another blow. The same week my husband called the hospital to tell me that his company is closing down and that we will be without any income or health insurance by Christmas.
     End of the world? Yep. It really is. It's the end of the way I felt about life before these things happened. My vision has been altered and I don't feel that I can see as clearly as I once could. It's a lot harder to see the next steps to take or even which direction to go. It's blurry when I try to use my ole faithful prescription of replaying situations, trying to find a way to fix things, to change them somehow. It doesn't work, and the End has come. 
     But again, sometimes the End of the world is just the Beginning of something new. I will never look at my son's health in the same light. I will always worry about him getting sick, worry about his treatments failing, worry about seeing that fear on his face again. But my kid got to come home. MY kid left that hospital on his own two feet while we watched other kids, sicker kids, being pushed through the hospital play rooms in wheelchairs as they passed the time waiting for a donor. You see, my world of healthy-kidneyed children ended, but at the same time, a world of gratitude began. 
     And my back pain may cause me to want to scream and ask "Why Me?!?" as I shake my fists (ever so carefully, as not to twist my spine) in frustration. But something about being brought to my knees in pain reminds me that I'm supposed to be there way more often than I am anyways. Pain is the end of our worlds in so many ways... but it's also the beginning of a life that needs to be slowed down a bit, a life that requires a little more rest than it was getting, a life that feels such thankfulness for doctors that can help alleviate some of the pain. And, oh my heavens, being without an income and without health insurance for our family, especially our little baby.... yes, this DOES feel like the end of the world! Right before Christmas? Right in the middle of all our kids' birthdays? Right when I make the choice to leave my job to stay at home with our little ones and help them with all things they've needed from me since they beginning? It is most definitely the End! And this End will most definitely be followed by a Beginning... a new job, with new health insurance, new hours, and new routines. 
     Yes, my vision definitely blurred for a "little minute" as my son would say, but I got a new prescription for my eyes. And this prescription is a crazy thing called faith. I can't see the answers for my son's health, but I have faith that he will be alright. I can't fix my brother's situation, but I have complete and utter faith that God will keep my nephew in the palms of His hands. I can't fix my daughter's behaviors, but I have faith that God can make her so confident that she will never have to rely on someone else's attention to make her feel worthy. And my marriage may have it's problems, my God, it does! But FAITH lets me hand the whole, hot, messy package over to Someone that knows just how to fix hot messes. In fact, it's His specialty. 
     I'm not saying the new lives we get dealt are better than the old ones. Because sometimes they are and sometimes they're not. But this is the one thing in Life of which I'm positive: No matter what the vision, the prescription is the same. "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2). 
     God is the author of Life, the writer of all my Beginnings and all of my Ends. And he not only writes my Life story with all its twists and turns, but He also perfects my imperfect faith. Because He loves me and because He knows I'll do a pretty crap job of it all on my own, He sent me an example to follow. Someone to go through His own Ends and Beginnings; Someone who was also kicked around by Life. And if I keep my eyes there... if you keep your eyes there... we will have us some amazing Beginnings, Friends.